Feeling better? Check. Half-day of class? Check. Signed up for a corporate tour? Nope. It’s time to see Delhi!
So after 3 days of getting sick and/or driving the porcelain bus, I had finally gotten over my ‘Delhi Belly’ and was able to venture outside of the hotel. It would’ve been an amazing irony if I had flown all the way to Delhi, seen two other cities (Agra and Jaipur), then been too sick to leave the hotel in Delhi! Luckily, I’ve gotten that out of the system.
Around mid-afternoon, Jig, Pat S., and I decided to go out wandering/shopping. At first, we decided to walk, and then reconsidered and took a rickshaw. First, if you’ve seen any of the videos on YouTube about traffic in India, you know that the roadways look like a demolition derby is taking place…yet, I still haven’t see a real accident yet. Not that they don’t take place, as I’m certain they do, but that as chaotic as it is, everyone seems to know what everyone else is doing. Cutting each other off, driving the wrong way down the street, instant U-turns across several lanes, avoiding chickens and cows and anything else roaming the street, and of course, pedestrians. Insane. What’s even more insane? The rickshaw ride cost 20 rupees on the way to our first destination, or $0.43. TOTAL, for all 3 of us.
So we get to the stores and end up looking at scarves and women’s clothing (for our wives, anyone who might be confused…), and somehow we end up taking a look at handmade, silk rugs. At this first shop, this was a sales masterclass of the highest order. Not only would the salesperson take out nearly every rug they had in stock, but also gave us sodas, and even afternoon tea! About an hour later, Pat was ready to buy (and I was thinking about it), but we couldn’t come to a “fair” price by our standards so we left. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a “masterclass”, since the salesman couldn’t close the deal!
As we decided to move on to store two, I noticed that the rickshaw driver had waited for us. So, not only did we pay just 20 rupees to get to where we were going, we now had a guy just waiting to take us other places! This cost/convenience factor would cost you hundreds in the states…
Store two wasn’t as nice as the first store, but it had a lot of the same goods. Scarves, jewelry boxes, the gigantic elephant/tiger sculpture(s) in the middle of the floor…and rugs. Pat was primed to buy a rug at this point, and buy a rug he did. There’s another amazingly ridiculous story that goes along with this, but it’s got to have it’s own posting space to be told. Let’s just say, if you’re in India and they call you “my friend” more than a dozen times or so, step back and think for a second!
We got back to the hotel around 5:30, and eventually went back out (same rickshaw driver!) to get some dinner at Veda, which was fantastic! Butter chicken, Naan, chicken kebabs…I decided to throw caution to the wind and test my stomach. I’m happy to report there was no funny business after dinner. Jig also suggested that Pat and I try paan, which is served as an after-dinner mint of sorts.
Whew. So all that in the span of 6 hours or so…and we still weren’t done yet! On the way home (same rickshaw driver!), we saw an Indian wedding ceremony. Not the actual ceremony, but the processional of the groom. I won’t even begin to try and explain this, but from the details I heard last night, the family of the groom causes a big ass ruckus to let everyone know their son is getting married. The groom rides a horse, and at the parade I saw, there was a marching band with friend/family dancing in the street! I took video, which I’ll be sure to post, because there’s really no way to explain the sights and sounds of this event.
Once I finally made it into the hotel, I had a paper to write before midnight about a “cultural disconnect” that I’ve witnessed since I’ve been in India, and a case study to read before 8 a.m. That’s all fine and good, but the real learning took place just by leaving the hotel.
Naveen Venkataraman // Feb 3, 2010 at 4:33 am
Heh. I couldn’t help but notice that you take a lot of pleasure in converting your Indian expenses into USD and feeling happy/surprised :) (nothing wrong with it, just an observation.)
I’ll go out on a limb and say that across cultures, this is one area of “connect”.
Randy Zwitch // Feb 3, 2010 at 6:07 am
The reason why it’s so humorous to me is that throughout my life, the purchasing power parity has never held up, and usually to the wrong side. Thus, any time I traveled, things always cost more!
But getting to India, where a 12 oz Coke costs $0.25 and transportation can cost $0.43 for 3 people, there’s just something so entertaining about that. I just need to find a way to import Indian Coke bottles to the U.S. for some price arbitrage ;)
Naveen Venkataraman // Feb 3, 2010 at 6:19 am
Instead of scotch, you might want to take a couple of litres of Coke with you through customs then ;)